We currently face an unprecedented global learning crisis. School closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic deepened the crisis, and updated estimates show that learning poverty may have risen to 70% in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Governments must take meaningful, decisive, and powerful action to accelerate learning recovery, and build back better systems that support all students’ learning.
Learning recovery and acceleration are not possible without a strong focus on supporting teachers and effective teaching. It is essential that governments provide high-quality development opportunities that help teachers improve their practice and meet the needs of their students. We cannot improve, however, what we do not understand. Providing tailored, relevant, and high-quality professional development begins with a strong understanding of what’s happening inside the classroom, and of teachers’ needs.
Teach Primary: Tracking and improving teaching quality
Acknowledging the vital role of teachers and teaching, in 2019, the World Bank Group launched Teach Primary, an open-source classroom observation tool designed to help countries track and improve teaching quality. Teach captures teaching practices that build students’ cognitive and socioemotional skills. The tool measures both the time teachers spend on learning as well as the quality of teaching practices, including how a teacher creates a culture that is conducive to learning; whether a teacher instructs in a way that deepens student understanding and encourages critical thinking; and how a teacher fosters students’ socioemotional skills. Teach can be used as a diagnostic or evaluation tool to get a snapshot of teaching quality across a system, or integrated within a professional development program to identify teachers’ areas for improvement and provide them with targeted support.
Since its launch, Teach Primary has been used in over 36 countries and 42,500 schools worldwide, involving 180,000 teachers and more than 3.6 million students. Teach has provided valuable information about teaching quality that has helped advance policy dialogue and develop targeted interventions to support teachers. In Mozambique, for example, Teach was used as part of a system diagnostic to understand the teaching practices used in primary classrooms, and ultimately helped inform the design of Aprender+, a new teacher professional development program focused on improving reading outcomes for students in grades 1 and 2. In Punjab, Pakistan, an adapted version of the Teach tool has been integrated into the professional development system for teachers, and is being used to provide personalized feedback to teachers through more than 30,000 weekly observations. And in Guyana, Teach Primary was used to assess the extent to which teaching practices have shifted in response to the introduction of a new curriculum.
Supporting inclusive education
Ensuring that all students are supported to learn and succeed in the classroom has never been more important. In 2021 the Teach suite of tools underwent a revision process to improve how they captured inclusive teaching practices that support all students’ learning. This review process included mapping the original Teach tool to the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Framework, considered an authoritative reference on inclusive education. The UDL Framework is underpinned by three key principles focused on improving instructional design and cognitive access for a diverse range of learners, which include providing multiple means of representation, action and expression, and engagement for students. This mapping exercise helped identify where the original Teach tool could better capture teaching practices that increase opportunities for all children to access learning.
The Second Edition Teach Primary tool and its associated materials incorporate a number of meaningful changes. Importantly, the revised tool incorporates new behaviors measuring the extent to which teachers display bias or challenge stereotypes related to disability, and the extent to which they explain lesson content using multiple forms of representation. The revised tool and Observer Manual also include updated examples that better capture the different ways a teacher can support students’ learning. Finally, a checklist capturing aspects of structural quality in the classroom has been incorporated as an optional component within the Observer Manual. This checklist captures information about the number of children with disabilities in the classroom, the accessibility of the physical environment, and the availability of classroom and learning materials for all students, to help Teach users have a more holistic understanding of the extent to which all students have opportunities for learning and success.
As with the first edition of the tool, the Second Edition Teach Primary’s complementary materials are all available for free through our website. This package of materials includes resources to support every step of the tool’s application, including in conducting initial dialogue with stakeholders, collecting video footage to contextualize the tool, training enumerators, conducting data collection in classrooms and schools, and analyzing and reporting results.
As countries accelerate learning recovery efforts and seek to build back better, a focus on supporting effective teaching for all students will be key. Using the Teach tools helps countries develop metrics that shed light on what’s happening in the classroom, ultimately helping to understand how to best support teachers in the post-pandemic context and beyond.
Do you want to learn more about the Teach suite of classroom observation tools?
- Check out this short video (also available in Arabic, French, and Spanish);
- Learn more by reading this brief on the Teach Primary tool and its use to date in different countries (also available in Arabic, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swahili);
- Learn more about the main updates to Teach Primary (Second Edition) tool through this summary;
- Read about how the Teach tool captures inclusive teaching practices through the paper "Teaching for All? Measuring the Quality of Inclusive Teaching Practices Across Eight Countries”, under review (link forthcoming);
- Consult the complete list of Teach materials and resources by visiting the Teach Primary and Teach ECE website;
- Learn more about the broader work of the WBG teachers’ team by visiting our webpage, subscribing to our newsletter or listening to our podcast (Apple & Spotify); and
- If you have questions about Teach, we invite you to reach out to us at [email protected]
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